Outlined below are some recent "Success Stories" where we were able to help families get more free money from colleges. Please note that each family's situation is unique and requires a customized College Insights approach!
Colleges make mistakes...
A recent College Insights students had identified her number one dream school that she truly believed was the right school for her. As part of our financial process with the family, we saw a significant opportunity for the family to get need-based financial aid from other schools. Because the student was talented, our strategy was to look at schools with financial aid policies that met a 100% need with essentially all free money. Once the family went through the whole financial aid process, the daughter got accepted at her school of choice. But, when they got their financial aid package, the school actually did not give them the amount of aid that was expected.
What happened? The school made a big mistake in calculating the family's eligibility for financial aid using the need-based system. Simply put, they did NOT receive what they were entitled to. In this situation, most families would have just accepted that disappointing offer and thought, "Well , we can't afford that school" and subsequently, send their daughter off to another school. But, we knew better! As a result, we helped the family appeal the financial aid package, coaching and guiding them through the appeal process. The school recognized their mistake and awarded the family an additional $33,000 in free money for the student's freshman year.
It's never too late to be helped...
In this situation, a student already in college needed financial help to continue living on the college campus. The student was a sophomore at a prestigious private university in a major Northeastern city. During the student's freshman year, the student lived on campus and did very well. However, the parents ran out of money and decided they couldn't afford to have the student continue to live on campus. The student ended up living at home and commuting to the university. Looking at their financial situation, we recognized that they were entitled to significant need-based financial aid. We realized that the school may have made some mistakes, so we encouraged the family to file an appeal with the school. We helped educate and guide the family through the process, showing them the possible mistakes to address as well as providing them with practices for how to approach and work with the university.
We helped the family write a letter to the school utilizing all the strategies and information we provided to them. After reviewing and refining drafts of the letter with the family, the letter was sent to the school. The family called us days later and very excitedly explained to us that the school had recognized their mistake and fixed, not only the current year's situation, but also retroactively fixed prior year's mistakes to help the family get things back on track. The student was able to return to on-campus housing and continued to thrive. This is a great example of how it is never too late to be educated and informed on the college process.
We are always available to help!
No Income? "Sticker Price" may mean nothing...
A family came in for an information meeting with us with a very unique situation. They were in the process of picking colleges with their niece. After speaking with the aunt and her husband, we began to understand that the couple had custody of their niece because her biological parents passed away. During their college search, they were looking at schools based purely on sticker price; they ignored schools that were more expensive because they felt they were unable to afford them. However, we realized that in the need-based financial aid system, the daughter was technically an orphan, and would therefore be considered unable to contribute any money towards the cost of education. In other words, her expected family contribution (EFC) would be zero. This meant that is they found a school that maintained a financial aid policy that met 100% of need with free money, the sticker price would not matter. In other words, the financial aid provided would allow the school to be much more affordable than the apparently cheaper "sticker price" schools the family was looking at before. We took them through our process and helped them expand the student's list to include many of these 100% need schools to increase the odds of finding both the right college for her, as well as the right one for the family's pocketbook.
At the end of the day, we were delighted to find out that she was accepted to a prestigious private school in New England and basically attended for free. The key is that every family's situation is unique and "sticker price" should not always be taken at face-value. It is important to become educated and informed about the process and to explore all your options.